The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech (MBI) and Comcast announced a new broadband adoption partnership with, Lead For America, a national 501©(3) nonprofit organization, to bring its American Connection Corps (ACC) program, nation’s premier AmeriCorps service experience, to the Commonwealth in Fall 2023. With support from MBI and Comcast, 15 ACC Members will be recruited for full-time, year-long fellowships to serve as Massachusetts-based, “boots-on-the-ground” support at local host site organizations to help with expanding broadband awareness and digital adoption across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts communities to benefit from this program include: Boston, Chelsea, Haverhill, Holyoke, Leominster, Lowell, Pittsfield, Quincy, Revere, Springfield and Taunton.
The Massachusetts ACC Members will support a range of broadband adoption activities, including the implementation of ongoing digital inclusion programs such as digital navigation and digital skill training for economic mobility. In addition, they will help build awareness and assist individuals with enrollment into the Federal Government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides eligible low-income households with a credit of up to $30 per month ($75 per month on Tribal lands) toward their Internet and/or mobile service. Thanks to ACP, eligible Comcast customers can get home Internet through Comcast’s Internet Essentials or Internet Essentials Plus at no cost once the federal credit is applied. Internet Essentials customers can also add a line of unlimited 5G cellular data ($45) through Xfinity Mobile for as little as $24.95/month after the ACP benefit is applied.
“Lead For America is thrilled to partner with AmeriCorps, MBI and Comcast to help expand our ACC program across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Joe Nail, CEO of Lead For America. “In order for all of America to flourish and prosper, every corner of the country needs to connect to the Internet and embrace the opportunity it enables. We anticipate that this partnership will build critical capacity within local organizations to make digital adoption a priority.”
“As a public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we are honored to award $350,000 bolstered by additional funding from Comcast to support programming at 15 organizations across the state. Building the institutional capacity of organizations working to close the digital divide at the community, local and regional scale is a critical priority for MBI as we work to deploy State and Federal resources to address these issues.” said Michael Baldino, MBI Director. “Nothing gets done without people on the ground, and we are excited to partner with Comcast and Lead For America to create opportunities for organizations who understand the real-world challenges and barriers to adopting and using the internet that are faced by individuals and families disproportionately impacted by the digital divide. Supporting the deployment of ACC Members will support and augment our digital equity initiatives.”
“Research has proven that digital navigators are critical to closing the digital divide and reducing socioeconomic inequalities by helping more people get online and develop workforce skills,” said Kristin Christopher, Vice President of Government Affairs for Comcast in Massachusetts. “That is why we continue to work side-by-side with public, private and nonprofit partners like MBI and Lead For America to connect directly with community members, advance digital equity and bring economic opportunity throughout Massachusetts.”
American Connection Corps is accepting applications for new members for the Massachusetts partnership and around the country. Selected members will address America’s most pressing challenges at the local level and join a nationwide cohort of leaders by participating in a paid year of service to advance economic prosperity in rural communities and emerging cities.
ACC Members must commit to a one-year term of AmeriCorps service from August 2023 – July 2024 and will earn a living allowance of $30,000, along with health care and other benefits and a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award of $6,895, upon successful completion of the program. Applicants must be 18 years and older; a college degree is not required. The ACC member application period formally closes on June 8, 2023, but applications will continue to be reviewed afterwards on a case-by-case basis. The current list of ACC host sites can be found here.
Comcast’s support of this effort is part of Project UP, the company’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Project UP encompasses digital equity programs such as Internet Essentials, Lift Zones and Comcast RISE. Since its inception in 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials has connected more than 10 million low-income Americans to broadband service at home, including more than 388,000 in Massachusetts. Additionally, Comcast has launched more than 1,250 Lift Zones in community centers nationwide – with 74 locations in Massachusetts alone – to provide students and families with access to free, high-speed WiFi.